Wilson Peak, Mount Wilson, and El Diente Peak Elevation Wilson Peak 14,024ft., Mount Wilson 14,250ft., and El Diente Peak 14,164ft. (July 12, 2003) From Silver Pick TH I traveled up and over "Rock of Ages" pass and then ascended "North Slopes" trail on El Diente, "Ridgeline Traverse" to Mount Wilson, down Mount Wilson's "North Slopes" and back into Navajo Basin, "West Ridge" trail on Wilson Peak, back to TH. The whole combination included class1,2,3, and 4. I did the circuit in the opposite direction as described in the Roach Book, the three peak trip and back to the TH is (11.0 miles rt. with 7,175ft. gain).
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Trip Schedule break down
|Friday||12:00PM||-left work (Drive to Telluride via I-70 to Grand Junction, then 50 to Ridgeway>)|
|7:00PM||-arrive at Silver Pick TH|
|Saturday||3:45AM||-leave the TH to climb the to "Rock of Ages" pass and into Navajo Basin.|
|7:45AM||-summit El Diente Peak via "North Slopes".|
|9:35AM||-summit Mount Wilson via "Ridgeline Traverse".|
|12:20PM||-summit Wilson Peak via "North Ridge".|
|2:45PM||-back at TH|
|10:00PM||-back at Home.|
I arrived at the TH only to find a plethora of mosquitoes. The directions to the TH from the Roach book were pretty good. There was a comment about taking the middle of three choices at one intersection, well....the intersection is not how I excepted it to be. The three choices are really straight ahead, slightly to the right and to the far right almost making a U-turn, the correct answer is slightly to the right. After covering myself with bug spray I went to bed in my usual stop, in the back of the my truck.
In the morning I woke up and hit the trail, I was expecting a full moon but no such luck. The hike up to "Rock of Ages" saddle was a little difficult with only the light of my headlamp. I managed to get off track a couple times, however I continued to go in the direction that I believed to be the saddle and found the trail each time. As I approached the saddle, I had the help of a few headlamps in front of me; this proved to be lucky because a found to switchbacks up the scree. The alternate to the switchbacks is taking a direct route that through the scree, a rather difficult route. I managed to actually pass a couple people on the climb to the saddle.
Once at the saddle it was still dark, but I could see El Diente and the traverse to Mount Wilson. I dropped down into the basin and headed for the most prominent couloir up El Diente. At the base of the route about 8-10 people were gearing up to take on the snow in the couloir, I on the other hand passed this group up and headed for the rock just to the right of the couloir. The route I choose was pretty good, however it was good that no one was following me. I had to be very careful not to knock any rock loose while climbing up the slope on El Diente, and this made my forward progress a little slower then it could have been. Once at the ridgeline I found myself on the wrong side of the ridge, so I did a class 4 maneuver and climbed up and over the ridgeline. Once on the other side, the route was obvious and was well marked with cairns.
Once on top of El Deinte, I reversed my direction on the ridgeline and headed back across the ridgeline to Mount Wilson. I saw where the group in the snow couloir were coming up and after some internal debating about the correct route, I decided that the route across the ridgeline was not down by them. I therefore headed around back to the south side or the ridge. I immediately picked up the trail and was making good time following the ledges around the backside of the ridge. I then ran into the coxcomb, and it was at this point that my memory of the route description failed and I climbed halfway up the stair steps and then continued around to the right (I should have climbed straight up to the top of the ridgeline). I eventually had no choice but to climb to the top of the ridge. Once on top of the coxcomb the route became apparent and I continued my traverse to the end off the coxcomb, down into the little saddle and then up to the summit.
On the summit or Mount Wilson I met two people who managed to do a high traverse from "Rock of Ages" mine to Mount Wilson. Taking their suggested route back seemed like an fair idea, however I later ran into some other hikers who advised against it. I came off of Mount Wilson's north slope, stopped at a watering hole near the end of a large snow field, filled up my camelback water batter (I brought a purifier), and dropped into Navajo basin. Actually descending into the basin and back up was not that difficult and the trail is good on both sides. Looking back on the climbing I just complete, I would have to say that the climb up Mount Wilson is easier then up El Diente (at least the way I did it), and the traverse was longer then the traverse on the Maroon Bells, but not as technical. I am still confused about all the hype that I had heard about this traverse, I did not see any repel points or the need for ropes.
The climb back up to "Rock or Ages" from Navajo basin went quickly and I was one the trail around the right side of Wilson Peak before I knew it. The trail on the backside of Wilson peak is loose and was difficult to descend on the way back. Going up the trail was not bad, and with some clouds gathering overhead, I pulled out some extra reserves of energy. The last couple moves to get to Wilson Peak rank up there with the last section on Wetterhorn.
I made it back to the TH using what I am guessing was the original route up to the saddle, a route that does not follow the road. After coming down this rather scenic trail I found the "STAY ON THE ROAD" sign that I must have missed in the dark that morning. I made it back the TH in time to give some mosquitoes one last meal, and then headed back to Denver before Sunday morning arrived.